Michelle Bradley high quality vocal jazz Michelle Bradley – BODY AND SOUL: There’s one word to describe Michelle’s wonderful jazz vocal style as I listen to her June 2017 release – “QUALITY”! She’s a member of the Metropolitan Opera Company in NYC, so that may have something to do with why she’s able to reel you in so strongly on her renditions of songs like “How High The Moon“… of course, it doesn’t hurt that she has stellar musicians backing her, like Art Fristoe on piano, Tim Ruiz on bass, Richard Cholakian on drums, just to name a few (check the credits on this page). Michelle sings with rich tones and expresses a sincere love of singing that is unparalleled (in my opinion)… just superb work!
Michelle’s performance on the title track, “Body and Soul“, clearly establishes her as a front-runner in the crowded world of female jazz vocalists… this was recorded live, so she and her players were definitely “on” through the entire 4:36 performance… in fact, I’ll go so far as to say that her next album might want to feature ALL live recording.
If you want to listen to some lovely Latin jazz (and some superb flute work), you’ll fall in love with “Key Largo” right away… it’s very easy to picture myself sipping a tall rum/coke as I listen to this most pleasant performance from Michelle (& that’s really saying something, since I don’t drink alcohol – well, maybe just a tall COKE, lol).
My personal favorite was too easy to pick… Michelle’s interpretation of Corea’s “500 Miles High” is absolutely amazing… high-talent, high-energy, through & through. I give Michelle and all her players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this fine jazz vocal adventure. You can read more about her on the Merry Lane Records label page for this album. Rotcod Zzaj
Patrick van de Wiele June 19, 2017
From New York City comes the sound of soprano Michelle Bradley, who is a member of the Metropolitan Opera Company. Michelle is from Houston, Texas, and was discovered through the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. In 2014 she won the Music Academy of the West’s Marilyn Horne Song Competition. The year after that she made a recital throughout the country, and previously received an award from the Hildegard Behrens Foundation. This time she wanted to make a CD of jazz standards, and that is now for me. She is accompanied by pianist Art Fristoe, a bassist, drummer, fluteist, trombone player and guitarist. Classics like the title track, ‘Misty’, Jobim’s ‘Triste’, ‘How High the Moon’, ‘Moonlight in Vermont’ and ‘Key Largo’ pass the revue. However, you can not hear her voice being opera singer. She sets the standards down with “verve”, like a real jazz cat.
Patrick van de Wiele (4)
All About Jazz
June 20, 2017
Body and Soul
Merry Lane Records
Michelle Bradley is an opera singer who made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Cretan in Mozart’s Idomeneo in the 2016-2017 season and is appearing as Clotilde in Bellini’s Norma in the 2017-2018 season. That said, she does not let that get away from her when interpreting jazz standards. It is an occupational hazard of hyper-trained operatic singers to bring a bit (too much) of their classical fireworks to the jazz stage. It is very obvious that Bradley’s voice is well trained, she does not show off. For example, she amply displays an impressive vocal range on Oliver Nelson‘s “Stolen Moments,” but does so with style and grace. She presents “How High the Moon” lyrically and with taste, while getting down with “Yardbird Suite.” Bradley’s accompaniment is simple, as it should be, hosting such a fine voice. Balladwise, Bradley excels on “Moonlight in Vermont,” while taking “Misty” over the top and into the atmosphere. Body and Soul is a nice start for a very talented singer.
Once you learn who Michelle Bradley is, the point of this album becomes obvious. She’s actually a soprano with the Metropolitan Opera Company, trained by the legendary Marilyn Horne. She spent many years singing with the renown Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston. This resume suggests she has a big voice with plenty of range, and she can absolutely own a song like “Misty” or “Moonlight in Vermont” or “Key Largo.” I suppose you can imagine the production meeting–hey, we have an singer from the Met and she’s into jazz and she wants to record ten tracks from the Great American Songbook. It sounds a little perfunctory, and maybe a little too perfect, but most people would say yeah, sure, let’s do this.
The actual story is more interesting and has more to do with long relationships and past projects and a general love and respect for Bradley’s wonderful and refined voice. So when someone popped with the idea of a Michelle Bradley jazz album, it was borne from a group of people who has been wanting to make this album for years. Her voice is effortless and dynamic, but the precision creates its own style. There might have been some trepidation in the studio, concerns that she wouldn’t loosen up to project a true jazz attitude, but all of that must have vanished in a sea of wide, knowing grins once she started in with these tunes. Body and Soul, in all its simplicity, is a great idea executed well, something that might seem odd in the world of jazz.
(I do want to say something about her band. Art Fristoe serves as the pianist and co-producer. I have his new CD in for review, and it’s fantastic. With bassist Tim Ruiz, drummers Jerre Jackson and Richard Cholakian and a host of guest musicians, Fristoe is one of those lyrical yet economical pianists who thrills using the space between the notes. The balance between Bradley and Fristoe, the give and take, the generosity of their partnership, is quite stunning.)
Michelle has a voice that sounds as though it was classically trained and is more familiar with the opera stage than the intimate jazz joint. She obviously has great respect for good songs and has chosen some of the best in the business here. Starting with a straight reading of the title tune she moves into Misty and treats it like a story she is telling. She begins How High The Moon with an ultra- slow ballad introduction and then continues at the more familiar medium tempo. There is very strong support both in solo and backing lines here from pianist Fristoe and guitarist Jackson. Both take sizzling solo choruses. TGood jazz flute from Shelley Carrol on two tracks.
Michelle makes a good job of Oliver Nelson’s classic Stolen Moments, her timing spot on and her voice carefully modulated. She uses her upper range to good effect, reinforcing that impression of classical training. Friscoe digs in to a nicely paced blues solo. Music by Ellington and Charlie Parker follow on, the latter an up-tempo romp on Yardbird Suite using Bob Dorough’s lyrics. …she and her musicians perform flawlessly throughout making this an attractive vocal jazz release.
Reviewed by Derek Ansell
A singer from Michelle Bradley, from Texas, is associated with Metropolitan Opera on a daily basis. A highly regarded soprano who has creations in such operas as Mozart’s ” Cosi fan tutte ” orVerdi’s ” Aida ” decided to face jazz standards this time. The result is the album “Body and Soul” recorded with the trio of pianist and co-producer of the album Arta Fristoe, guitarists Brennen Nase and Greg Petito, and invited guests to participate in several songs. The disc program includes such topics as ” How High The Moon “, ” Stolen Moments ” or ” Moonlight In Vermont “.
The encounter with a classically educated voice with a unique timbre and a specific manner of vocal opera singer with improvising jazz musicians gave a surprising effect.In the well-known topics of Errol Garner, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Chick Corea, we will see previously unknown values. Strong soprano Michelle Bradley works perfectly in this unusual repertoire. They are perfectly seconded by jazzmen, with an uncanny intuition able to adapt to the opera’s mannerist manner, while not submitting to unintentionally the convention with which they were confronted. It is worth mentioning that Art Fristoe, co-responsible for this project, has vocal studies in the tenor class, which allows him to see many important details from the other side.
It sounds great in the first four tracks of Brennen Nase’s extremely agile guitar, giving the music a special color.
“Body and Soul” is not only an intriguing curiosity. It is also a dose of exquisite, though peculiarly developed classical jazz, which is worth stopping for a long while.
The album was released on June 2, 2017.
The singer Michelle Bradleyhe had a classical soprano training and won a major national competition such as The Music Academy of the West’s Marilyn Horne Song Competition in 2014. Concerts followed, other competitions and the opportunity to perform at the Metropolitan. However, he also decided to sing the famous jazz standards in the company of the pianist Art Fristoe, his countryman (both are from Houston in Texas). The result is a very special record, there are ten standards in which the rhythm section and Shelley Carrol guests on the flute on two tracks and on the other two sax, Andre Hayward on the trombone on one track and the guitarists Brennen Nase in the first four tracks and Greg Petito in four others offer a bubbly and swinging jazz. Art Fristoe on the floor and electric piano, Tim Ruiz on electric bass and double bass and Jerre Jackson and Richard Cholakian who exchange roles on drums are a rhythm that knows very well the tradition and the mainstream.